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Showing posts from August, 2013

The Teacher's role in an emergent curriculum

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I had the privilege of joining to the teachers at the World Bank Children's Centers for a professional development day yesterday. I gave a talk about teacher-research and told some stories from my work, but things really got going when the topic of the teacher's role in an emergent curriculum came up.

It's a tricky question, for sure. It is easy to assume that the adult's role is a passive one in a school based on the child's interests. It is really quite the opposite, though, and many of the teachers at the World Bank gave examples of ways they manage to listen and respect children's choices while at the same time creating an atmosphere where children are challenged and feel safe to try new things. As someone said when I visited Reggio Emilia long ago, "We want the children to confront that which is uncomfortable" for them, as well as things that they are at ease with. 

There is often a concern about coverage of academic information in this type of cur…

Snake!

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“Thinking, you see, denotes nothing less than the participation of all our previous experience in the resolution of a current problem”  (Vygotsky 1997, p.175)
School hasn't even really started  and already a magnificent provocation has presented itself. This long black rat snake came to visit, winding himself through the preschool playground fence. He hung out for a while and then went into a hole at the base of the big tree on the playground. Black rat snakes arent poisonous, and eat large insects and mice. We had one for a pet when I was a kid (my brother was a reptile and amphibian lover).

I wonder how the children will react to the news of this snake living below the tree? I predict they will want to protect him, like when they built a shelter for a beetle so no one would step on him. But we will see...
                                more info  on snakes here".virginiaherpetologicalsociety.com




cheers for the 2013-14 school year!

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Back at work, and I spent the whole day cleaning shelves and putting things away. I wish I had taken a picture of the massive heap of stuff that got piled in the studio over the last few weeks of summer! I am the master of stuff, you know. I don't really mind the process of getting the studio back in order after a break, in fact, I enjoy it. I think that maybe the cleaning and re-stocking that all teachers do at the start of a new term is a ritual that helps us ease back into the work after some time out of the classroom.

True Confessions and Mindfullness

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As the summer break from regular school is winding down, I've been feeling myself begin to tighten up. Does that happen to you, too?  A couple of days ago I started to be conscious of this feeling, not dread exactly, but the feeling of steeling myself for the new school year, and I began asking myself why?  I love so much about my job. Working with the children and families is a pleasure. I am pretty confident in my practice of teaching, though there is always more to learn.

Then yesterday I realized that for a long while time has seemed to be flying by, and I have been having trouble staying with or concentrating on anything. How can I slow down, read and research and re-find that creative concentration that is my habit? Last year we had a training session on mindfulness  I had to chuckle at myself yesterday when I realized I was holding my Mindfulness book in front of my eyes but thinking about all the things I want to get done before school starts again. It is Frank Costanza sho…

cool stuff from tinkering camp

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This is the second summer that Pippin, Kerry, Zoe and I have held a tinkering camp.  There is a lot to learn about scaffolding this type of inquiry, because it is so important to balance the right offerings (materials and tools), skills, practice time and provocations. If you don't get the balance right, nothing much gets made. You have to figure out what skills the children already have and what they are ready to do next. This year, there were vinegar+baking soda powered cars, as well as gravity powered ones, plus planes, animal and people toys, a painting who's eyes could mysteriously move, and a cool tank with a swiveling turret. It was big fun!